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CINEMQ takes on the queer scene in Shanghai

A collective for those yearning for a clued-up, diverse queer culture

Illustration by Michael Cignarale and Will Dai

Driven by a team of passionate writers, promoters, DJs and designers, CINEMQ offers a series of monthly themed short film screenings and parties in collaboration with big names on the Shanghai nightlife circuit. Launched in 2015 as a creative crowd-building initiative for ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival, CINEMQ has since partnered with city nightlife lynchpins such as DADA, Elevator and Shelter to offer alternative party series with a distinctly artistic and intellectual twist. CINEMQ is a key-player for those yearning for a clued-up, diverse queer culture in Shanghai, distinct from the city’s mainstream queer scene that continues to march to the beat of growing commercialisation.


Each film screening showcases a bespoke cinematic ‘mix-tape’ with a distinct thematic thread, conceptualised and stitched together by the CINEMQ team. While each experimental mix-tape casts a spotlight on independent cinema and under-represented queer lm-makers and video artists, CINEMQ pulls from a wide range of sources to mix and match visuals in order to highlight or challenge a central concept. ‘Creating mix-tapes is a really experimental approach' says Matthew Baen (below), co-founder of CINEMQ and co-curator of the collective's characteristic 'short narratives'.


Chinese short films, television adverts, drag performances, interviews and music videos and more are chopped up and reworked into an avant-garde patchwork-style medium through which ideas can be challenged through a distinctly critical lens. Big themes such as masculinity, queer dance culture and non-binary gender have so far come under the CINEMQ microscope, charging attendees with the task of viewing issues in a new light.


Rotating among a range of locations across the city, CINEMQ rejects the stuffy vibe of traditional film screenings, favouring unconventional spaces and simple wall-projections where possible. Partnering with clubs and bars such as DADA, Shelter, Elevator and Craft has supported the growth and visibility of the collective, offering multi-purpose events spaces for both screenings and club-nights. Although these venues are by no means LGBTQ specific, clubs like the now-defunct Shelter offered safe spaces for the queer community and actively contributed to the building of queer culture in Shanghai. Free after-parties conclude each screening with the CINEMQ team or their partners from Co:Motion on the decks.


The team behind the scenes at CINEMQ have big plans for the future of the collective. In addition to monthly screenings and parties, CINEMQ is set to launch an independent bilingual magazine and website focusing on queer cinema and Chinese screen culture. With whispers of a zine on the not-so-distant horizon, CINEMQ’s growth and diversification promises to be a game-changing force in the local queer community.

CINEMQ runs monthly film screenings and parties at venues around Shanghai. Find out more on CINEMQ's brand new website here or follow the official WeChat account by scanning the QR code below.


CINEMQ's film-makers to watch

Green Mok

Green Mok

'Mok subverts radical Western queerness and assimilationist politics in his best known film, The Dragon & Phoenix Show (2013) When a gay teen commits suicide, his mother holds a ghost wedding for him. A magic realist musical comedy with heart.'



'Documentary duo masamojo don't focus specifically on queer, but caught a lot of attention for A Straight Journey (2015). The documentary stands out for transcending societal concerns, delving into the nature of what it means to be human and queer'.

Cheng Zhu

Cheng Zhu

'The "ick" factor lingers after watching The Taste, the story of a man who can't form relationships because he loves to eat cum. But the audacity of Cheng's work is in its ability to stand by a person and ask are they really more perverse than the rest of us?'

He Xiaopei & Yuanyuan

He Xiaopei & Yuanyuan

'Both filmmakers' wit and wicked sense of humour means their subjects - including queer, female and sexual oppression - are never pitied, but empowered. Watch their feminist documentary, Our Marriages: When Lesbians Marry Gay Men (2014)'.

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